22
Tue, Oct

Bishop John Bonaventure Kwofie

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How can somebody like me from a small tribe - the Ahanta people in the Western Region - be called to go to work in Accra; I mean how are the people going to receive me?
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Somebody from this small place, Apowa, and now Bishop of Sekondi-Takoradi, and now shot up to be the Bishop of Accra! I did my minor seminary at Amisano and then joined the Spiritans, a missionary congregation.


I’ve been taken to different places, specifically in West Africa: Gambia, Cameroun, Nigeria and Liberia.

I ministered in The Gambia for three years and then went to Rome for further studies.

During a sabbatical I was selected to become the Bishop of Sekondi-Takoradi.

I have a body of good collaborators who work so well with me, touching the various sectors of the diocese.

It’s not just the priests but also the laypeople have been just wonderful.

I believe so much in God’s providence, especially so when I was informed that the Holy Father wanted me to go to Accra.

I am still struggling through it. In the end, it is God who is at work, so I only pray that I meet people who will welcome me in Accra.

How can somebody like me from a small tribe - the Ahanta people in the Western Region - be called to go to work in Accra; I mean how are the people going to receive me?

That’s why I throw myself to the wind to open myself to God’s spirit to direct me the way He wants.

God calls us to serve in such positions. What it means to me is that I have to open myself to God’s spirit knowing that Accra has so many faces, and is more multi-dimensional.

Collective vision

So I look forward to having another Presbyterium, a body of priests with whom I am going to work and with whom to fashion a vision for the Accra archdiocese.

It’s not mine to impose a vision on a place I do not know that well.

It must be a vision that we all share. I am the driver in the front seat trying to move the diocese forward.

I would want that we all fashion a vision of the type of church we want in the Accra diocese.

There’s the rural aspects of Accra and also the urban aspects. The needs are many.

Accra is more cosmopolitan, and so we have to fashion an organic pastoral strategy to respond to the special needs there.

Accra can be deceptive, in that you look at the beauty of Accra and you think everything is all rosy.

But there are so many poor people in Accra; many vulnerable people, people who are marginalised.

And these people need the attention of the Church and I want to avail myself to people of need, people who have been abandoned, people who are kind of forgotten in society. I think we have to bring the Church closer to these people.

Memories

There are so many programmes in Takoradi that have already been slated and outlined to celebrate the 50th anniversary.

Especially dear to me are the renovations of our grottos. And of course, the children’s hospital we are building.

And the bishop’s house because since I came, I’ve stayed beside my office; we don’t really have decent accommodation for the bishops.

So I wish these could be achieved as early as possible as part of the jubilee programme.

I am going to leave these projects halfway, but I believe the next person to come or whoever will be holding the fort will push these projects through to their successful end so that we celebrate them as projects of the jubilee year.

The church in Ghana is one family and anyone anywhere who is deemed able to do the ministry of a bishop can be appointed for that particular diocese.

The universality of the church is something we have to appreciate.

So the need for a bishop in Accra has come up and the Holy Father thinks I am the one to move from Takoradi to go to Accra.

I believe the work of the spirit helps to see the bigger picture.

Ordination

Since I am already a bishop, the law is that I should move to Accra within two months.

Had I not been an ordained bishop it would be three months.

These are things that we will gradually have to agree on between myself and my dear and loving predecessor - Archbishop Palmer-Buckle - to agree with the president of the bishops’ conference, about the most convenient time to do the installation in Accra.

Message

It’s refreshing to hear that Accra says their joy and gain is a loss for Takoradi.

My message to the people of Takoradi: I am always a “Tardi” boy, you know. I would actually ask my people in Takoradi, the church people in Takoradi, to continue to hold me in their prayers.

Hold me dearly in your prayers as I go out to minister in Accra.

And then always remember that as I go to work in Accra I am from you, so hold me in your prayers.

I will also hold you dearly in my own prayers.

Let Takoradi always remember that they have a son who is now the Archbishop of Accra.

And for the church in Ghana, I would say that let us celebrate this family spirit, the oneness that this appointment or appointments of this sort of demand.

Amen!

The author is a trainer of teachers, leadership coach and quality education advocate.

Email: anishaffar@gmail.com
Blog: www.anishaffar.org

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